Wednesday, 30 October 2019

September 2019 Round-up

Despite being nearly due a 10-year overhaul, reliability continues to be good and there's very little to report, except for a regular boiler washout. So let's move straight on to the overhaul.

Way back in March 2010, when we were frantically trying to get 2807 operating as quickly as possible, one of the tasks completed was a hydraulic test of the boiler. Ten years on from this, and the boiler certificate will expire on 10th March 2020. This is the event that triggers the 10-year overhaul for all steam locomotives. Unless of course there is some sort of major failure before, or the boiler inspectors grant an extension for a period of time.

So what do we do about this? At a high level, the options are:
1) When the annual boiler examination is due in November of this year, we decide not to have the examination but to start the overhaul instead.
2) At the end of the 2019 operating season at the GWSR we withdraw 2807 and start the overhaul
3) At the end of the boiler certificate in March 2020 we start the overhaul.
4) At the end of the boiler certificate in March 2020 we request an additional examination to find out whether an extension to the certificate is possible.

Each of these options has a long list of pros and cons which I won't go into here, but Cotswold Steam Preservation Ltd won't be making any decisions without first consulting with the GWSR. We need to make sure that our plans for 2807's overhaul fit in with GWSR's plans for operating the railway. We also need to select a company to carry out the work on the boiler, and to join a queue of other boilers waiting for attention. If there is a 'gap' in the queue then that might influence our choice of option, and which company will carry out the boiler work.

All of which means that right now I can't tell you which of these options (or maybe one we haven't thought of yet) we will be going with.

Once an option is chosen, we will work with the GWSR to see if there is the possibility of a farewell event for 2807.  Details will be made available as soon as possible.

So quite a few unknowns at the moment, which is a little unnerving. And we can add to the unknowns because until we start dismantling the locomotive we won't know the condition of some of the parts. If any are worse than expected then this may mean that we have to carry out more work, meaning additional time and expense to complete the overhaul.

This is why, in addition to income from steaming fees, we've carried on with our fundraising activities without a break. I'm sure you will have seen us represented at events at the GWSR, and you'll know from reports in previous editions of the Cornishman that there are a number of ways that you can help us financially to make sure that 2807 is overhauled and back in operation as quickly as possible.

There are a number of ways that you can help and some of these are detailed on this web site.  One of the most popular is to become a shareholder.

Meanwhile we still have our siphon van at Winchcombe. This becomes vitally important to us now because there will be a lot of parts removed from 2807 shortly, and we need somewhere secure to store them. The siphon will be used for this, but needs some more work to make it ready. This includes ensuring that the storage shelving is in good condition and suitable for the heavier items. This work is underway now and should be completed in time, whichever option we decide upon.

The year 2020 is going to be an important one for us, with lots to sort out and decisions to be made. We'll keep you informed as much as possible via these round-ups.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

June 2019 Round-up

No. 2807 started the 2019 season well, if a few weeks late. But on April 7th she was failed with a hot coupling rod bearing. The team got to work, and after removing the connecting rod and the offending coupling rod, discovered that the lubricating oil passage was blocked. This of course meant insufficient oil reaching the bearing surfaces, hence the hot bearing.

By the end of Wednesday the 10th, the oil passage was unblocked, and the rods refitted. On Saturday the 13th, 2807 was supposed to double-head with 4270 to make sure all was well. But unfortunately 4270 was failed with a broken spring so 2807 took the service train alone. The run was successful and the bearing temperature was normal.

Some of the drivers had reported that the brake vacuum was sticking at 19in of mercury, when it should be reaching 21 in. The suspicion was that the vacuum piston rod had become worn to the extent that the glands were not sealing. Measurement of the rod diameter found a difference of 40 thou along its length. This can be looked at during the heavy general overhaul next year, but for now the gland was tightened, and the brakes were adjusted so that the vacuum piston rod does not have to move as far.

Towards the end of April there were reports of a cracked spring. At the next opportunity this was replaced before it broke, because a broken spring triggers a loco failure (as for 4270 earlier). The crack was very small and so our thanks to the drivers who spotted it.

There were the usual array of minor issues to resolve, many involving valves that were not sealing and needed lapping-in. A washout was completed just before the steam gala, along with fitting our spark arrestor equipment.

And our 'workshop' received some attention. The workshop is actually an old shipping container. This is the GWSR's preferred option for providing working space. Loose rust was removed from the roof and a coat of bitumen paint applied.

In between times, the team have had to work hard at the boot scraper production line because so far this year, on average, one has been sold for every railway operating day.

Since our team works twice a week, sometimes we need to complete two or three (or more) at a time just to keep up with sales.

(for more information on our boot scrapers, visit our shop


Saturday, 30 March 2019

March 2019 Round-up

So I went and said “there's no reason to think that 2807 won't be ready for the start of the 2019 running season”. What on earth was I thinking. I forgot the golden rule. Whatever you plan to do on a steam locomotive, it won't go according to plan. And the end result? No. 2807 ran her first services this year on March 23rd. Which actually isn't that bad because the season only started two weeks earlier. But it did mean we missed the Cheltenham Festival race trains this year.

During January the valve cylinder liners were re-bored. This work was carried out by Tyseley, and they did a similar job on Dinmore Manor at the same time. This is work that was to be part of the heavy general in a year or so, meaning it won't now need to be done as part of that overhaul. Of course one implication is that some of the valve parts need to be replaced to suit the new cylinder dimensions.

C=cutter, S=screw thread

The reason for the slight delay to the start of our season was not so much the amount of work, but the availability of parts. Or rather, the non-availability of parts. Mainly the new piston rings and parts for the valve assemblies. The problem seems to have been that Tyseley couldn't get hold of the correct grade of material and so they couldn't manufacture the parts. The main cylinder piston rings were collected from Tyseley mid-February, and the valve parts on 8th March.

Main piston re-fitted with new rings

Valve piston rings

While waiting for these to come through, the team worked on the injectors, cab fittings, clack valves, whistles, drain cocks, and more. And between times, painting loco, tender, and of course boot scrapers.

It was very pleasing though that after working on so much around the pistons and valve gear, plus the other parts, 2807 went on a test run to Cheltenham and back on Friday the 22nd and was declared fit to run service trains the next day. So that bit did go very much according to plan, just a few weeks adrift of the intended timescale.

I also want to mention that Stuart will be running our “2807 Grand Draw” again this year. Tickets are £1 each and will be available from him either at railway events or direct (email First prize is cash equivalent to 28.7% of the value of tickets sold, second is a bespoke conversion of a Hornby GWR 28xx into No. 2807, plus a number of other prizes. The draw will take place on Tuesday 12th November.


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

December 2018 Round-up

Well there's good news and not so good news. The good news is that 2807 hauled the train for the Armistice Centenary event at the railway on the 18th November. The event was universally well received and we are proud that 2807 was able to play her part. The significance of 2807 to the event is that during WWI she hauled “Jellicoe Specials”, the coal trains running from South Wales to the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. For the occasion a massive poppy was attached to 2807's smokebox.

But just a week later, the not so good news. Just to remind us all that running steam locomotives is difficult and unpredictable, 2807 was failed on the 25th November. The symptom was a very unusual exhaust beat and lack of power. The first thought was a broken valve ring. After taking out both of the valve spindles, it was clear that none of the rings were broken.

So what was the problem? The next assessment was a lack of lubrication to the valve cylinders, causing deposits between the rings. The lubrication system was thoroughly examined and adjusted. After much cleaning, the valves were refitted. By this time it was 5th December. A test was carried out the following day.

But the problem was still there. A few days later a number of people had come to the same conclusion. That it was probably a piston ring (not valve piston ring) that had broken. As this has happened to 2807 before we know of a relatively easy test. The remnants of the ring usually end up in the body of the drain cock. And sure enough, it was full of bits of ring. What this meant was that 2807 was out for the remainder of the season.

While the valves were out, the valve cylinders were measured. The wear is sufficient to need a re-bore. So over the winter we'll re-bore the valve cylinders, re-cut the (main) piston head grooves, and fit new rings to all. While this is a significant piece of work, it was planned in for the 10-year heavy general overhaul anyway, and so all we're actually doing is bringing this forward. Our sincere thanks to the numerous people in the steam loco dept. who helped during this period.

This means that we have a busy few months ahead, but there's no reason to think that 2807 won't be ready for the start of the 2019 running season.


Monday, 1 October 2018

September 2018 Round-up

In short, more smooth running from No. 2807. That's a summary of the last three months. Topped off with a successful steam test at the start of October. Not quite that simple of course. Apart from the regular boiler washouts, a few other items have been tackled.

We seem to have a recurring problem with leaking clack valves. This means that there's a seepage of steam back towards the injectors. We have two sets of valves, and this means that we always have a set that are off the locomotive and can be worked on. In our team, Bruce in particular is becoming an expert on the clack valves, and has been known to work on other locos' clacks as well as ours.

Another item that we had been monitoring is a leak from the pep pipe. This is the pipe that's used to damp down the coal, to reduce dust. This improves comfort for the crew and reduces the chance of a coal dust explosion. The pipe is sometimes used to help clean the footplate area. In our case, the valve controlling the flow has been leaking. Bruce, again, lapped the valve components and this seems to have resolved the problem for the moment.

The team have also been working on a problem with the ash pan sprinkler system. This is something that was added in to the design of the ash pan and wasn't standard originally. The pipework on the right hand side has broken and leaks water out instead of sprinkling the ash. Because of limited access, and because we're near to the heavy general overhaul, the decision has been made to cut off the pipe and plug the end. This leaves us with the pipework intact on the left hand side, and this still operates to dampen the ash in the ashpan.

Another significant improvement that has been made is to add a standard hose connection to the end of the blowdown valve pipe. This makes it significantly easier to fill the boiler, for example after a boiler washout.

While the hot and dry weather over the summer was very welcome, it did cause problems with lineside fires. These can be caused by sparks from the chimney and from the ash pan. Fortunately we already have spark arrestors that can be fitted into the ash pan damper door apertures, and onto the blast pipe in the smokebox. These are effective in reducing the release of sparks and thereby reduce the chance of lineside fires. Our design for these arrestors has proven itself, and this year we were asked to produce similar ones for 4270.

Meanwhile at Winchcombe our siphon vehicle now has refurbished (but not operational) corridor connections. As the weather starts to deteriorate, work will move back to painting the interior.


Thursday, 19 July 2018

Maintenance Update (4270, shackle, gun, crown)

Wednesday 11th
With 2807 in service and 4270 back from its repair work, guess what happened? Bruce stood still too long and was co-opted to work on 4270! Since we are experts at playing with damper doors, Bruce was set on to find out why the front one of 4270’s damper doors would not open. He checked the linkages and they were OK, so it had to be that he door itself had seized. Well, it hasn’t been used for about 9 months, so it was the hinge that had got lockjaw. Some oil and waggling did the trick eventually.

Gil would have been standing there supervising, but it is dangerous standing still … there was a reported issue that 4270’s left-hand injector flange was leaking. It didn’t say which of the four flanges it was, but logic eliminated two of them. So, Gil and Bruce tightened them all anyway.

Gil subsequently showed some visitors around, and later retired to Winchcombe to keep Fred company.

John G and I managed to look very busy indeed, so we didn’t get pulled to work on 4270. I finished off five boot scrapers and then needle-gunned a further three. John was struggling to find space for the boot scraper production line, but managed to prime six green plus three black rail chair tops; four bottoms; and cut the bolts off one that has been ordered with a specific date.

We had some discussion about the charge for refurbishing boot scrapers. Some will be quite faded by now, and we can needle-gun the old paint off, repaint and fit a new brush. The consensus was that we should charge £15 for doing that - which is a bargain! Alternatively, you can have a new brush plus two wedges for £5.

Saturday 14th
2807 was still happily chuffing up & down. Token exchange at Todders:

4270 had a steam test and ran up & down during the afternoon, but not on a service train.

John T and I concentrated on boot scrapers, while Gilbert wandered around in his orange vest. This seems to be a good trick, as no one asks you to help out fixing anything (e.g. on 4270) because you look as if you are doing something important already!

John cut the bolts off 11 chairs; primed 6 tops, and painted 3 black bottoms. I applied enamel paint to 11 chairs and then needle-gunned 4 more (to be painted red).

Wednesday 18th
It had been reported that the coupling on the tender had been wearing the safety split pins. It was as though the shackle had sprung open a shade - can’t see why or how? Anyway, Gilbert and Bruce removed it gave it a press. All OK now.

While there, they checked the brake blocks for wear, but they are all OK.

Someone reported having difficulty removing the R-clips on the rear damper spark screen, so Bruce drilled out the holes to make the clips easier to pull out.

Reportedly, the oil gun used for lubricating the front of the valve rods was not working. Gil examined  it and found that it had been filled with oil … at the wrong end! There’s an internal bung with a chain attached. To fill the gun, you have to remove the rear cap, pull the bung back with its chain and then fill the gun from the front end. Clearly, someone had simply removed the rear cap and poured oil in! Perhaps instructions need painting on the side of the oil gun?

John G and I continued on the boot scraper production line. Nigel helped John with wire-brushing a couple, then John painted three tops and four bottoms.

It’s a tense time for the Loco Dept, as P&O has broken a spring, and Foremarke Hall is having trouble with its left-hand injector.

[Loco Dept’s equivalent of watching a man dig a hole!]

While these two are out of service, it only leaves 4270 and 2807 operational. Friday is a Fire & Drive - you decide which loco you’d rather be on! Four of you in an enclosed cab in this weather? I think not! So, we are on standby. Foremarke is rostered for Friday, but if the injector is not fixed …

It is imperative that both injectors are working: If you were chuffing up & down and one injector failed, you must have the other one working, otherwise it would be an extremely serious situation. With both injectors failed, you would have to drop or extinguish the fire to avoid melt-down of the firebox crown!

The outstanding issues for 2807 are:
6 - Driver side under cab side - main steam pipe to injector leaking at joint/sleeve. {We can’t touch this while on standby just in case a problem arose fixing it}
48 - J-cock leaking. {Ditto, not allowed to dismantle it today}
49 - Left-hand big end running hot. Oil pot full. Oil level did not change all day.
This is followed by the comment: Clive syringed out & refilled; was hotter than others but oil level dropped slightly.
Subsequently JP reported: Left-hand big end was as cool as a cucumber.


Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Maintenance Update (plug, carrot, spark, ash)

Wednesday 20th
The day began with Bruce changing over the top clack valves (that feed water into the boiler). Not happy about the newly fitted ones leaking already, Bruce refurbished the old ones and fitted them back today. (Whenever there’s a chance to clamber over the top of the loco …)

He reckons that the surfaces in the removed ones are not flat - slightly bevelled - which could account  or their inability to stop the backflow.

Remember the broken ash-pan sprinkler pipe? Well, here’s Gilbert sawing through that part that is accessible, with a view to then putting a plug in it.

The sawing was the easy part. Removing the pipe remnant from the elbow joint took most of the day … plus two helpers!

Remember the pep pipe fountain?

Bruce took the pep pipe valve apart today. The bottom half-inch of the “carrot” was shiny, indicating that it was the only part of the valve that was in contact. So, Bruce lapped it in again and fitted a new seal in the top. Hopefully that will fix it.

John G noticed the five rail chairs that had previously been needle-gunned, and knew exactly what to do with them.

John set-to with the angle grinder, removing rough edges and smoothing off the surface. Then out came the wire brush to polish them up. Honestly, you can almost see your face in them by the time he’s finished!

I volunteered to remove the blow-down valve pipe. The plan is to fit a standard fire-hose connector to the end of it, so that the boiler can be filled through it (when cold, of course!) quickly and easily. You are not allowed to remove a mud-hole door, for example, to put water into the boiler. That would be breaching the integrity of the boiler seal, and would necessitate a boiler steam test all over again.

This “five minute job” took from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.

The problem being that although there is only a single two-bolt joint, it is beneath the cab floor. The near bolt is a doddle to remove. The far one, on the other hand … is beneath yet another pipe’s flange, below the floor panel through which the three damper door operating levers pass!

I finally gained access to the nut; persuaded it that it really did want to come off, and eventually extracted the pipe.

Bruce can now cut its end off and fit the appropriate hose connector … and then I’ll fit the pipe back on again. 😊

Wednesday 27th
2807 had been rostered in service this week, but the increased fire risk put paid to that because she has a reputation for setting things alight! I advised the GWSR that there are spark arresters for the smokebox and for all three dampers, so today’s task was to fit them.

JC kindly shunted us over a pit inside the shed, whereupon it became obvious that the firebox and ashpan had not been emptied since the steam test on the 16th. We are not allowed to empty ash into the shed’s internal pits, so we decided to fit the spark arresters - Bruce tackled those underneath, while I tackled the one in the smokebox.

The “traditional” spark arrester in the smokebox is two-part that clamps around the blast pipe. The original stainless nuts & bolts that we bought for it seem to have gone awol, and have been replaced with ordinary nuts & bolts. Shame! Nevertheless, it took less than an hour to fit this.

The ones that we (i.e. David) designed for the dampers are very easy to fit - they slot into place and each has two R-clips to secure it.

2807 has three damper doors because the ashpan is in two sections, one either side of an axle. The front section has two dampers and the rear just one. There is no space for a damper right at the very back to be able to open.

As I mentioned, Bruce discovered that the ashpan was absolutely full …

So, after lunch we were shunted out over an external pit in order to clean it all out.

I cleaned the grate …

… and Bruce cleaned out the ashpan.

Thanks also go to Eddie and Alex for helping clean out the pit after we’d filled it with soggy ash. 😊

2807 is now rostered to be in service on the next two Saturdays & Sundays.


Saturday, 16 June 2018

Maintenance Update (fire, leak, fountain, operational)

Saturday 9th
The busiest people on 2807 today seemed to be the two Johns - Cruxon & Hancock [Loco Dept}.
There were just a couple of plugs left to be fitted, so the hose was hooked up to the blow-down valve and water fed into the boiler while Gil shinned up the ladder (with John T standing on its bottom rung) to fit them. One plug was failed and had to be replaced with a new one. Basically, it fitted too deeply into its hole.

The two Johns lit a fire, but (IMHO) there was not sufficient time to do a steam test. White waiting for some pressure on the gauge, the Johns repacked various glands (the ejector valve, regulator, and blower) and straightened the shut-off tap on the hydrostatic lubricator. It appears that it had suffered a blow - apparently a similar thing happened on Foremarke Hall.

Most of the day, John T and I played with rail chairs - cutting off bolts, grinding their bottoms flat, needle-gunning and finally slapping a bit of paint around.

Not a very exciting day, and by 4 pm there was no sign of any pressure on the ‘clock’, so the three of us poodled off home.

Sunday 10th
Bruce reported: “I arrived at about 9.45 to find that Mike S (dept) and Rob had put a fire in but then found that the paperwork was not complete. During the boiler inspection the stay test had not been done or the results had not been recorded, this put a question mark on the steam test.

It then got worse! There was about 20 psi on the clock and the plugs all seemed OK but there was a small amount of damp around one of the mudhole doors. Mike suggested we nip them up so Rob, wielding spanner, went round them all. Unfortunately, on tightening two of them (rear bottom and bottom right front) the seal blew and water poured out.

This put a stop to any test so the fire was raked down and the boiler topped up to compensate for the leaks. Yes, the injectors worked at 20 psi.”

Wednesday 13th
Mark Y had replaced the two mudhole doors’ seals and was in the process of carrying out the steam test this morning. Sadly, another mudhole door sprang a leak. A couple of washout plugs also appear to have a wisp of steam emanating from them. Steam test abandoned! But she did get up to 200 psi today with no other problems.

Bruce decided that it was judicious to assist MY by working on Dinmore Manor’s washout. Bruce dismantled the (water) gauge frame and cleaned its innards before reassembling it. Then he removed the mudhole doors and cleaned them ready for refitting.

With loco hot and fire in, it was not feasible to attempt any other maintenance. However, I spent a few moments examining the ashpan sprinkler pipe. The pipe has broken on the RHS, so we intend blanking it off. There’s an elbow at which this can be done. The LHS will still work.

Thereafter, the two Johns & I reverted to boot scrapers. The Flag & Whistle had sold six this week.

Bruce was dismayed to discover that the new clacks (that he fitted only a couple of weeks ago) are leaking! Having refurbished the old ones, they are going back on as soon as she’s cool enough! One effect not seen until Saturday was a fountain erupting from the top of the pep pipe cock once pressure had built up. This cock is a constant source of trouble and needs to be replaced with an improved design.

Friday 15th
I arranged with Bruce to spend a short time to drain the boiler and remove four of the mudhole doors yet again. However, Mike S had drained down, so Bruce removed the doors and cleaned them before I’d arrived! Mark refitted them circa 4.30. A warming fire was then lit (circa 11 pm, I understand).

Saturday 16th
Someone (probably Mike S) had lit a fire by the time we arrived. The tender was a tad low on coal but well full of coal dust! So, we spent the first hour shovelling it out into the JCB bucket!

Thereafter, we were largely tending the fire and gently bringing pressure up. Mark Y had managed to find some instructions regarding the fitting of the mudhole door seals. This is the first time we’d seen any guidance from the manufacturer. It looks as though we were not entirely doing things correctly. Firstly, don’t warm the gaskets before fitting because this may start the rubber to cure too soon. Then, don’t tighten the newly fitted doors more than half-a-turn. The guidance then says that some leakage is “not uncommon” during the initial steam raising stage - don’t panic! When everything has cooled down, apply a specific force using a torque wrench.

By mid-afternoon, things were going swimmingly …

The first safety valve lifted at 215 psi; the second at 219 psi. Vacuum was just a tad high. We carried out various scheduled tests: both injectors work fine; gauge frame operates correctly; nothing leaking in the smokebox; whistles both work; and so on. A couple of hissing doors, but according to the guidelines … don’t panic! Mark signed her off as operational. Yippee!!!